Longtime PBS journalist and host Gwen Ifill died on Monday after a months of battling cancer. She was 61.


The host of PBS’s Washington Week and co-anchor of PBS NewsHour, Ifill was a veteran in the industry. She joined Washington Week in 1999 and served as a managing editor on the show. In 2013, she became co-anchor with Judy Woodruff for NewsHour. Before PBS, Ifill was NBC News’ chief congressional and political correspondent. Prior to that, she was the White House correspondent for the New York Times, and the Washington Post as a political reporter.

She was a pioneering reporter, a black woman in the time when white men ruled the news.

Ifill moderated the 2004 vice-presidential debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards, as well as the 2008 debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. Her book The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama was published in 2009. President Obama paid tribute to Ifill at his press conference yesterday: she was a “friend and extraordinary journalist who defended a strong and free press.”

“Gwen was a standard bearer for courage, fairness and integrity in an industry going through seismic change,” read a statement from PBS NewsHour executive producer Sara Just. “She was a mentor to so many across the industry and her professionalism was respected across the political spectrum. She was a journalist’s journalist and set an example for all around her. So many people in the audience felt that they knew and adored her. She had a tremendous combination of warmth and authority. She was stopped on the street routinely by people who just wanted to give her a hug and considered her a friend after years of seeing her on TV. We will forever miss her terribly.”

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